We wanted to let you know that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was unable to attend our festival. I received a phone call from his office apologizing, for not being able to make it. He was tied up with other matters of the state. However, the King of kings and Lord of lords showed up.
Jesus was truly at the gates of our city. We had people telling us that the moment they arrived they felt the presence of God. A few people told us that they could feel the presence of Jesus and the power of God. It’s hard to estimate how many people came, but there were many. Of course we had a feast for all to enjoy, we had hot dogs, turkey breasts, hamburgers, and a lot of items which we gave away to the poor. During those two days the peace of God was in our midst. Overall, the homeless were behaving, everyone was grateful and happy, and they were appreciative.
During the festival, corporate security came to us telling us that they heard that a couple of people were healed at our festival, and they were asking questions about it. No one should be surprised; Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He healed in the past and He heals today through His faithful servants. The blood of Jesus paid it all.
Our festivals are the hardest times in the year, so much lifting, so much carrying, so much preparation, but also those moments to see so many people impacted, prayed for, smiling and coming to us, hugging us and simply saying thank you, are precious and make it all worthwhile.
We had a lot of moments of seeing the power of God. There was a young man, only twenty years old, who Louis prayed for who said the pain in his back had gone. The man confessed in front of everyone that his chronic back pain was about 75% gone and he proclaimed that He was now going to follow Jesus. There was another fellow who came who had been hit with a baseball bat, who had his pain healed completely and he also said that he felt His bone coming back into place and he was able to move his thumb which before the prayer, he could not.
Sunday worship was awesome. We had people worshiping from many cultures; imagine people from India, Poland, Russia, Canada, Africa, Columbia, Mexico, from different native tribes, from young to old, all in one accord, with different instruments and worshiping styles at the gate of the city worshiping Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. It was absolutely amazing. Try to picture it; a black homeless person sitting on the steps of City Hall, surrounded by a group of people, singing a gospel song with tremendous passion, and as the tears were coming down his cheeks everyone around him cried with him. There was the power of love, the power of forgiveness, and the power of hope that everyone can start afresh.
Overall it was a great success.
We also had our faithful attendees from the City. On Sunday, they taped the entrance to the City Hall and sent two bylaw officers to try to intimidate us to take the flags of Jesus down. After a brief negotiation, they left. The flags stayed. Wednesday, at the very beginning we were greeted by corporate security. Two gentlemen who didn’t seem to have much of a problem with what we were doing, but then two new bylaw officers that we had never met before showed up (we have been very privileged to meet most of the police and bylaw officers in the city). Again, they asked us to take the flags down, Jesus’ name and the Ten Commandments. After briefly challenging the officers that every other peaceful protest does in fact attach different objects on posts and lamps without harassment, and that we just want to be treated the same, they started to threaten us. They indicated that they were going to give us a few minutes and then they would start confiscating the church’s property. We said, only with us attached to it. They turned and left.
A few minutes later police officers showed up. Their concern was the blockage of the sidewalk. After a few rearrangements, the problems were solved. On a side note, all of them heard the gospel. By the way, one of the officers that came was the same one that arrested me a few months ago. He heard that I forgive him, and that Jesus loves him. Through the whole conversation, I saw him smiling. It was as though he was wondering what on earth to do with us. Then, behold, three more bylaw officers showed up. Another person wearing a green suit was there on the phone most of the time (we believe that this man was responsible for the stir up). I reasoned with the police officers and asked them why they didn’t just let us continue to minister in Triangle Park. You kicked us from there so now we are here.
Then, City Lawyer David Louis showed up. At this point they all stood behind the cross talking to each other. Our Louis was preaching without ceasing the whole time. It was quite the view; hundreds of homeless, eleven City officials, our volunteers serving food and the name of Jesus all over the place. The end result was that the police and bylaw officers, on the advice of the City lawyer, threatened to take us to court to completely remove our fundamental "guaranteed" rights to peacefully demonstrate, to feed the poor, or to otherwise preach the message of Christ anywhere in the city of Calgary. Can you imagine that? That is, literally, worse than communist Poland. This cannot happen, because if it would in fact happen, there goes democracy.
After our conversations they just asked us to move the cross a few feet to the left and the preacher that stood on the cooler two feet to the left and then they left. As they were leaving Bogdan offered to feed the officers and to pray for the officer whose leg was hurting him. The officer refused but at least we offered.
At the festival we had a Métis elder from down east that came on His electric scooter. He was proudly displaying his cross and asked for a "Jesus is Lord" and a "Jesus Loves You" flag for his scooter. He drove around during the festival talking to people and sharing. It was a blessing to have him.
On a positive note, a really amazing opportunity happened just the other day. I was sitting down to dinner and the phone rang, at that moment, I had a split second to make a decision, to forget the call and eat, or to pick up the phone and help someone else. I was tired, I was ready to eat, but someone was in need. I felt that I needed to pick up the phone and it was a good thing that I did. On the other end of the phone was a Muslim man who was in desperate need of spiritual counsel. He went to two churches; at one they did not help him – they were too busy, and at the other the door was locked. He had asked others for help, but to no avail. He searched on the Internet and came across our website. Even with the fact that we had Jesus all over the place on our website, and it is abundantly clear that we are all about Christ, he was not deterred or scared off by this. He got our number from the website and called.
I spent some time on the phone with him and was able to help him through his dilemma. He was so full of gratitude that he immediately offered to repay the ministry with a donation. I refused indicating that I did not help him in order to be paid. The Lord will repay. Our ministry does receive donations from those who believe in supporting what we do, but I will not take funds from a man in need as though I was being paid for a service. What struck me about the experience was that there is such a thirst for spiritual guidance out there. Jesus said that we are to be the salt and the light in the world, but if we are holed up in the "safety" of our church buildings, we will miss the boat. When it comes to the needs of those in the world we are to be there for them as much as we can and go further for them than they expect. Through this God is glorified.
Matthew 5:38-45 "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (39) But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (40) And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (41) And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (42) Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (43) "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ (44) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (45) so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. "
We have to be willing and available in these dark times, and we have God’s guarantee that He will use us for His glory. Like He did with all the participants of the festivals and like He does every day in the ministry with those who volunteer to help and minister to the poor, the homeless and the broken hearted. Today, I pray and I ask you to pray with me for all the politicians that resist the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the police department, bylaw department, municipal governments, provincial governments and all others that are not willing yet to bow to the living God. May God bless them with His salvation and may God’s truth in the name of Jesus Christ set them free, and that one day we all together will worship the Creator of life.
A couple of weeks back, I had a man who phoned the ministry telling me that he was sick and tired of sitting in the pews of the church doing nothing. He said, "Jesus tells us to go out and preach the gospel to all creation." He said that for years he had been looking for a ministry that did this and finally he found ours. He told me that he may not be able to volunteer every time we are on the streets but he wanted to volunteer a couple of days a week. I was glad to have him come. When he came to the festival to volunteer, he told me that he felt such a presence and power of God that he wanted to volunteer as often as possible with the ministry. When I asked him if he had a problem with the police and the bylaw officers, he smiled and he said, "I have learned this, in my life, if you are doing something right, you have opposition. If you don’t have opposition that means you aren’t on the right track."